We are often quick to stimulate judgements on what we perceive to be happening when children behave in a way that are drawn but when a young person with autism is struggling to cope with the world, the last thing they need is our criticism.
These 10 tips indicate our combined experience of research and close participation with children with autism. And as a proud parent of a boy with autism, I would like everyone to think more about how they respond to children.
Because if we take time to respect and understand people with autism our communities will become more enriching and inclusive for everyone.
1. See me for who I am
There is only one of me, just like there is only one of you in the world. Like you, I have lots of different skills and abilities as well as things I find difficult. Just because I have autism doesnt mean I am the same as everyone else with autism. Love and acceptance from household, pals and everyone around me is the best route to help me to develop and thrive.
2. I hear, appreciate and feel the world differently to you
I find some interferences, aromas, savours or illuminates stressful, terrifying or even physically pain. Touch can overwhelm me and I might not like hugs. But I can experience details that you might miss that I can enjoy and find funny or arousing so come and share these things with me. Read some of the books written by people with autism to learn more about how the world can feel.
3. I want pals, just like everyone else
But my social behaviour might seem different from other people. For me, communication and interaction isnt just through words. Some children with autism dont use spoken language and communicate in non-verbal ways. This can include taking your hand to the object I want, or looking at something of interest so watch me and discover my language.
4. My behaviour is my way of communicating
If I cant talk or express my thoughts and feelings I can become very disappointed, sad and angry. People appreciate my behaviour as difficult, naughty or purposely challenging but its likely to be my way of communicating. Dont exacerbate these outbursts, help me say what I want to.
5. Treated with me in ways I can understand
Slow down and give me time. Be clear about what you say, and give me the chance to react it takes up to 10 -1 5 seconds in order to be allowed to process what you say. Get to know my interests and my ways of communicating. And let my interests inspire your communication with me. Dont to continue efforts to take over or control our interaction. Commit me space and time to respond. When you discover to listen with all your senses youll realise how much I have to say.
6. I live in the here and now
I dont ever understand “the worlds biggest” image so understanding things in context may be difficult for me. Show me portraits and let me know what to expect and I can join in so much more easily.
7. I am anxious and fret a lot
This is because I have difficulties understanding the world and communicating my thoughts and requires. The route I appreciate, hear or feel the world can be pain, and the world can be a frightening and confusing place for me. When something happens or changes suddenly, I may panic. People might envision Im being silly but I am really terrified.
8. Routine is really important to me
Because it builds me feel safe and helps me to cope. That doesnt intend I dont want to experience new things. I just require more support to join in with the world. If you help me, I can find the operations and sports that I will enjoy and you are able to enjoy with me. Find out what helps to calm me. If I am less anxious I can cope with more.
9. I need your help to access the world and discover
Every child with autism can discover. You just need to take time to understand how I make sense of the world and stimulate read relevant to me. Everyone learns in different ways. I might need to move more and use visual resources but I love to achieve and discover its a great way to help me feel more confident.
10. Belief about what I can do , not what I cant
I am a clever, sociable, whole person. I may be more interested in certain specific subjects and pick up on the detail more, but this is my interest. My friend may expend hours watching and playing football, my friend might like foreigners, and I like talking about my videos and finding out people names. Desire me and work with me and enjoy what I bring to the world.
Helen Driver, PhD Researcher in Autism, Family and Communication, Northumbria University, Newcastle and Joanna Reynolds, Research Psychologist and Senior Lecturer in Child and Family Wellbeing, Northumbria University, Newcastle
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